SORONG, KOMPAS.com – Police in the city of Sorong, West Papua, have brought treason charges against six people suspected of flying the banned Bintang Kejora [Morning Star] flag during a protest last Friday, 27 November.
“The men were waving the flag and distributing pamphlets during the protest before we dispersed it. We then told them to desist from their activities,” said Sorong Police Precinct head Chief Police Commissioner Ary Noto Setiawan on Monday, 30 November.
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“However, they disobeyed, forcing us to put them under arrest. We brought them and the evidence, which included two Bintang Kejora flags, a microphone and pamphlets on the so-called Republic of West Papua, New Guinea, to the Police Precinct.”
Ary noted that the men, who ranged in age from 18 to 66, were among dozens of protesters who held a long march towards the offices of Sorong’s mayor, before they were stopped by police, including the force’s elite Mobile Brigade Corps or Brimob.
If found guilty, they face between seven to 20 years behind bars
His deputy, Police Deputy Commissioner Kristanto Abadi, added that the police investigation does not end there. “We are investigating the Republic of West Papua’s links overseas, among them a suspected network we traced to Belgium,” Kristanto asserted.
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“Other links we are exploring include the organization’s self-proclaimed president, Maichel F. Kareth, who is based in the Netherlands.”
The Bintang Kejora flag is one of the symbols of the Free Papua Movement [OPM], an umbrella organization of Papuan separatist groups.